Every team has a blank slate and plenty of hope going into the 2022 NFL season.
Some squads have reason to be optimistic after landing marquee veteran talent and drafting elite prospects this offseason. Others have suffered losses that could cost them dearly in 2022.
Several playoff teams parted ways with stars and lost other notable contributors while failing to land suitable replacements. These departures could make it difficult for these clubs to win as many games or go on as deep of a postseason run as they did last year.
Here, we'll highlight four teams that may be on the verge of a backslide by highlighting their 2021 record and their projected 2022 win total courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook. We'll then dive into why they are heading the wrong direction and poised for a regression this coming season.
2021 Record: 11-6
Projected 2022 Win Total: 9
The Arizona Cardinals started 10-2 last season before falling apart toward the end of the year and collapsing in the playoffs. That may carry over to the start of the 2022 campaign.
Quarterback Kyler Murray "is not expected to play" until he and the Cardinals come to terms on an extension, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. But even if the Cardinals do hammer out a long-term arrangement with Murray before Week 1, there will still be some tough sledding to open the year.
Star wideout DeAndre Hopkins was recently handed a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substances policy. Although injuries limited him to only 10 games last year, he still led the team with eight receiving touchdowns along with 42 receptions for 572 yards.
Arizona lost another key member of its receiving corps when Christian Kirk signed a massive contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency. The team will still have plenty of pass-catching options with Rondale Moore gearing up for his second season and Marquise Brown coming aboard in a draft-day trade, but Murray could struggle to get in sync with these receivers if he sits for out much of the offseason.
The defense also suffered a major blow when edge-rusher Chandler Jones signed with the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency. Jones made three Pro Bowls during his six-year stint in Arizona, including last year after he recorded 10.5 sacks and six forced fumbles along with 36 pressures.
In Jones' absence, J.J. Watt will have to shoulder an even bigger pass-rushing load for Arizona. Watt looked good for the seven games that he played last season, but the 33-year-old has played only in 55 of a possible 97 regular-season games since 2016.